5. A Tense Car Ride
A scene in which a driver takes his boss shopping is a simple one, but this brief moment between Mr Kim and Mrs Park is one that summarises the entire ideology of the film.
Mr Kim is fully at the whim of Mrs Park, who happily plans out her elaborate but casual (you can wear sweatpants if you want) garden party, as he follows her around, despite the utter trauma his family has faced the night before.
She sits in the back of the car, feet up, chatting away to her friends about the party. Then comes the crux: “Today the sky’s so blue, and no pollution! Thanks to all the rain yesterday!” In this one line, we see the binary opposition between the Kims and the Parks. To the Parks, the rain is just a minor inconvenience that leads to a lovely day; for the Kims, it has seen their home completely flooded, many possessions ruined, and a night spent in a school gym.
The frustration on Ki-taek’s face is evident, and you know that his perception of her changes in this exact moment. No longer is he amazed at her niceness, now he is keenly aware that they are from different worlds. As she opens the window and starts blocking her nose due to his smell, the wonder of the Parks is fully eradicated, leaving Mr Kim feeling like nothing more than a stink bug.
4. What the Hell Is Ram-Don?
Nothing is more tense than a ticking clock. Given that the half an hour leading up to this sequence is all like that, it is a wonder how Parasite manages to ramp up the tension at least ten levels with a short phone call. Turns out, the campsite the Parks were set to visit is flooded, and they are now on their way home. The Kims have spent the night treating the place as their own, have been held hostage by Moon-gwang and Geun Se, and now, they have eight minutes before the bosses are home. How will they ever manage to turn this around?
In a brilliantly charged sequence, the family rush to get the house back to normal and hide their captors back in the bunker. Meanwhile, Chung Sook must prepare a dish she has never heard of to be ready for Da-song as soon as they get in. Clever camera techniques, such as using multiple body doubles for hands in the aerial cooking shots, up the pace of the sequence, truly leaving us on the edge of our seats, wondering how our protagonists will ever make it in time. It’s emotionally heated, heart-racing stuff, and it ends with a shocking kick to Moon-gwang that sets the climax of the film in motion.
3. A Garden Party to Remember
The climatic garden party scene is truly the most shocking moment in the film. You never think the film will take things that far, and yet, it does.
Not just one murder, but three, take place in a relatively short sequence, as the film graphically and violently shows just how far desperation will take you. Geun Se attacks as an act of revenge for what Chung Sook did to his wife, Chung Sook defends her daughter and herself by killing Geun Se, and then, in a shocking twist, Mr Kim slays Mr Park, triggered by the rich man expressing disgust at the smell of Geun Se. Revenge, self-defence, frustration at being looked down upon: all seem like very different motives for murder, and yet the film gives us all three in one blood-drenched, gasp-inducing scene.
The characters who live and the characters who die all come as a shock. How did things get this out of control? It’s the moment that shapes the whole narrative, and has us pondering the morality of each of the central ensemble long after the lights come up.
Recommended for you: Bong Joon-ho Films Ranked